Peter left for Berlin the next morning. It was sad, but not really that much. It felt more like the kind of goodbye you’d give a friend when they were leaving your house and you had plans to see them that weekend. Which was in fact true for us. After a few more days in Edinburgh we would be getting on a plane and flying down to spend the weekend in Berlin.
The morning got started slowly. Peter didn’t have to leave until about 9:30 so we took our time waking up and getting breakfast. When the time came, we saw him out the door and told him we’d see him soon. Our trio had turned back into the dynamic duo. Which was probably for the best. It had only been three days, two and a half really, that we’d spent with Peter, but there was so much we had crammed in and so much of it involved stairs that by the end of his stay we were running on just fumes.
But there were still so many adventures to be had! We couldn’t slow down, at least not to a stand still. After cleaning up, Mom and I gathered our things and returned to the Vodafone store. With Peter gone it was even more imperative that we have at least one phone that would work properly. We showed up a few minutes before they opened, as did several other people. Once the doors were open we all moved forward into the lobby. A red-haired fellow took down our names but it wasn’t really necessary. A second later a man behind the counter called us over. Short story made shorter, I gave him my phone, he did phone stuff to it, it worked, we left. Hooray!
With my phone finally functioning, I looked up the bus route to Roslin to see the Rosslyn Chapel. Why the town and the chapel are spelled differently I have no idea. We walked the block from the Vodafone store to the bus stop and prepared for the hour-long drive out of town. The ride was comfortable enough and didn’t wear on that long. We were dropped on what looked to be a completely closed down street. A few restaurants on the street corners seemed to be the only places open and doing business.
We began walking down a quiet lane with some other people from the bus, following signs to the chapel. Farmland stretched to our right and our left, divided by the road we walked on and a large grove of trees. We soon came across a car park for the chapel and a bit beyond that we reached the welcome center. The building was brand new and state of the art. It had been outfitted to tell the chapels history, and of course sell all those lovely souvenirs we just have to have.
We waited in line to get our tickets then left the welcome center and entered a gravel courtyard. This side of the chapel was in complete shadow, making the many turrets lining its roof look dark and menacing. There was a single door beneath a rounded archway set in amongst the stones. The other side of the chapel was the polar opposite. It was directly in the sunlight, a brilliant array of tan, brown and red stones with blackened spires. The entryway at the south of the building boasted the cleanest stones off all, as it had likely been added on more recently.
From the outside, Rosslyn looks much like any other religious building from its time period. What makes Rosslyn Chapel an amazing place to visit is what is inside. I’m not religious but I’ve seen enough ornately crafted religious buildings to know most of them are all about the same. But Rosslyn Chapel is on a whole other level. The chapel is a fairly small structure. It’s not anywhere near the size of the big Gothic cathedrals. That makes the number of carvings and ornaments that much more impressive. There is something to look at on every inch of the inside, and every carving tells a story or has a fascinating story behind it.
Some carvings depicted the seven sins and seven virtues. Others show the Dance of Death, depicting characters from all walks of life yet all are accompanied by Death. The Nativity Scene is there, as is the Star of Bethlehem. There is a carving of an angel playing the bagpipes, of the Green Man, a pagan figure representing the power of nature, and the Apprentice Pillar, with its own story carved into the rock. The list goes on and on. Behind the alter of the church were stairs leading down into the crypt, a location made famous after its appearance in The Da Vinci Code back in 2006.
We sat and listened to a presentation by one of the guides and learned of the chapel’s origins and history. William St. Clair founded the chapel in 1446 for his family. In its time, it has been used to stable the horses of Oliver Cromwell’s troops, been visited by the likes of Robert Burns and Dorothy Wordsworth, and was restored by architect David Bryce, after which Sunday services began to take place for the first time in 200 years. The chapel had a similar affect as the Stone of Scone. Here was this place steeped in so much history and we were standing right inside of it. It was amazing to think it had once been some decrepit, forgotten building when it was positively radiant now.
Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the chapel, but if you really want to see some of the carvings you can find them on the Rosslyn Chapel website. After seeing all we could take in, we made a quick stop in the gift shop then walked back up the lane to where the bus had dropped us. The next bus didn’t come for another 45 minutes so we had some lunch at a restaurant on the corner. The place was small and too tightly packed with tables and chairs, and we got stuck at the tiny table right next to the door. After we left, we decided we should’ve gone to the Tea Room across the street. But alas, we did not.
When we arrived back at Prince Street we had a cow to see. Mom had spotted a stuffed Highland cow inside one of the souvenir shops on our way into town that morning and she wanted to go back for a photo-op. Don’t worry, when I say “stuffed” I mean like a stuffed animal. Jeez, what kind of people do you think we are? I took a few pictures of Mom and her cow before we poked around the store a little bit. I debated getting some Scottish flag boxers but decided it wasn’t worth the pounds. We grabbed another bus back to the flat to grab something to eat and relax a bit before heading off on our next excursion. Or so we thought.
We had planned to catch a train out to Falkirk to see the Kelpies. If you don’t know, Kelpies are water beings said to inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland, and they often appear in the form of a horse. The Kelpies we were going to see were 30-meter tall horse head sculptures created by sculptor Andy Scott. The two horse heads were erected in a park known as The Helix and each weigh over 300 tons. They are crafted from steel and filled with lights. When we went the Kelpies were lit with red but apparently the color changes from time to time. We did not, however, get there on the day we had planned.
Maya and Malc were in the kitchen when we went in to get some lunch. We got busy chatting with them about our plans and asked how things were going with them (they were right in the middle of a move when we were staying with them). We talked so long that we caught our bus too late, which made us miss our train. Of course we had only just gotten our tickets out of the machine when the train pulled out of the station. So we walked sheepishly into the office to ask if we could change our tickets for the next day. The man did so without making us feel any sillier than we already did.
Defeated and deferred from our evening activity, we did what all smart people do in our position. We went to the pub. It was the same bright blue pub we had first seen on our arrival in Edinburgh. Its name, Ryrie’s, when said out loud reminded Mom very much of Scooby-Doo. To this day, whenever we talk about it, her speech is temporarily disrupted and she turns into a cartoon Great Dane with a speak impediment. The pub was just as lovely on the inside as it was on the outside. We took a small round table in the corner with a nice vantage point of all the other goings-on in the bar. No one came over to help us so I went up to the bar and brought us back two pints.
The pub grew dimmer as the sun disappeared behind the buildings outside. The atmosphere stayed lively though. A group of people was watching the game on TV (I don’t know what game but sports fans always seem to refer to whatever is on as ‘the game’) while others sat enjoying their drinks and nice conversation with friends. It was unfortunate that we’d missed the Kelpies but it was nice to have a quite evening at the pub as well. The honey-colored liquid slowly vanished from our glasses as we passed the time alternating between people watching and brief exchanges of words.
When we left the pub, we took a minute to photograph the beautiful blue outside with its hanging flower baskets and gold lettering. The night was mild and the hour not too late so we decided to walk back home rather than spend even more time that day on a bus.